Richard Nixon Library Gets Watergate Overhaul: 'Let the Historical Chips Fall Where They May'


However, 2004 legislation released all of Nixon's presidential papers held at the National Archives and allowed them to be moved to the Nixon Library.

As of last July, all of the documents were released and available for research at the library -- and following the $500,000 remodeling project, new and important documents and recordings pertinent to the Watergate story are on display.

Up until Nixon's presidency, every other president had the right to remove all of their presidential papers from the White House for their personal ownership.

According to a Federal Court of Appeals document outlining the history of the presidential papers, many presidents in the past have destroyed documents from their presidency.

President Andrew Johnson took his papers from the White House and passed them down to his family, which then sold them to the Library of Congress for $7,500.

President Chester Arthur's presidential papers were a mystery until his grandson wrote the chief of the Library of Congress' Manuscript Division, telling him that President Arthur had burned three large garbage cans full of papers "which I am sure would have thrown much light on history."

President James Garfield had many of his presidential papers destroyed related to his being struck by an assassin's bullet. He died two months later.

After Garfield's death, his children gave the remaining papers to the Library of Congress.

Kennedy Documents' Conditions

President Kennedy never was able to make arrangements for the disposal or storage of his presidential papers before he was assassinated.

Kennedy's documents were shipped to the National Archives to be displayed in his future library, according to Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives.

The conditions, according to court records in President Nixon's bid to reclaim his own presidential documents, were that Kennedy's representatives, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Edward Kennedy, reserved the right to limit access or withhold any materials they chose.

In 1978, Congress passed the Presidential Records Act, which got rid of the private ownership of presidential papers. The outgoing president, Jimmy Carter was free to dispose of his presidential papers, but gave all of them to the National Archives.

President Ronald Reagan and all following presidents have been subject to this act.

Besides the Nixon Library, the National Archives now oversees 12 other presidential libraries.

ABC News' Michael S. James and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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